It’s good to hear Johnny Pesky won’t be selling can openers or overshoes, but will be starting a brand new thing as a Red Sox announcer.
Pesky was the Red Sox manager in 1963 and 1964, which seems about 1000 years ago in this new era of Dick Williams, pennant contenders and front-office harmony.
Johnny finished seventh and eighth in his two years, and had some trouble, to put it mildly, with Dick Stuart. Pesky tried to get tough, but got little backing from upstairs.
“You can’t let somebody walk all over you,” he said Thursday. “I saw it coming and tried to stop it, but I couldn’t do it alone.”
Some have said Pesky wasn’t experienced enough to handle the collection of butterflies running around in Red Sox uniforms, that he should have had some major league coaching first. Pesky doesn’t think so.
“I’d done plenty of managing in the minors,” he said. “I knew how to handle personnel. Let’s just say I became manager of the Red Sox at the wrong time. Bitter? No, I’m not bitter. It just happened, that’s all.”
The adjustment from field to microphone is going to take time.
Last season Pesky managed Columbus. Before that he’d been a first base coach with Pittsburgh. He’s had a uniform on every Summer since 1934, when he was a bat boy for Portland of the Pacific Coast League.
Pesky made an audition tape the other day.
“They asked some questions and I answered them and then I took it from there,” he said. “It went about 10 minutes. There was no play-by-play in it. I’ve never done that.”
Pesky will travel with the Red Sox and do the color. Asked if he were going to be a baseball analyst, he cracked, “I’m not smart enough for that!”
His only broadcasting experience was in the late ‘40s, when he and a couple of other players – Earl Torgeson of the Braves was one – had a disc jockey show on a small Boston radio station.
“We played records,” he said. “It had nothing to do with baseball, except that I think our names helped bring in some new accounts.”
The new job will give Pesky more time at home with his 15-year-old son.
“He’s really not interested in baseball,” he said. “He likes airplanes and likes to read, and that’s good. He said to me one day, ‘Baseball’s kind of a foolish game,’ and I told him, ‘Maybe, but it’s fed you all your life.’ But he’s a good kid, and I’m certainly not going to push him into baseball just because it’s been my life.”
Pesky said he’s not sure about any television plans the station has for him.
“With my beak,” he said, “they’ll have to use a wide-angle lens.”